Establishing a Career the Hard Way

11 June 2012, 06:00



A number of  former ATI (Advanced Training Institute) students have shared their post-ATI experiences in light of ATI’s position against pursuing higher education.  This is “Julia’s” story:

I want to start off by saying I greatly value most things about my upbringing. But how I plan for the future now is based largely on my past experiences, and there are definitely some of my parents’ choices that I will not be repeating for my own family. My childhood was amazing, and my life now is as well, but my teen years were very difficult. While it would be easy to chalk this up to typical teenage angst, there definitely was more than that at play.

My family wasn’t completely against college, but they were against going into debt. They definitely felt that most college was a waste of time and money, especially for people who end up spending thousands of dollars to “discover themselves” (a premise I generally agree with). My parents also believed that you didn’t need a degree to get a good job. However, had my parents presented college as an option or plan for me, my journey to a career path would have been much less rocky.

Against my parents’ wishes, I moved out of their house at 19 years of age. I took whatever job I could find, which at one point was working a retail job for 20-30 hours per week, making only minimum wage. I also took a seasonal fall job and worked as a nanny. Eventually I became a nanny full-time, supplementing my income with office work. The only reason I was able to obtain this office work is that the father of the family for which I was a nanny needed part-time help with his business. I did that for a year and a half. Recently, I was able to move into a full-time secretarial position, which I consider to be a very good job for someone with my minimal experience and qualifications.

At some point, I do hope to earn at least a certification in my field of interest, and perhaps more. I think what frustrates me the most though, is that my mom was always the one proclaiming, “You don’t need to go to college; You can magically turn your interests into a paying job,” while my dad worked tirelessly to support our family. Ironically, my dad obtained the job he did only because while he was working full-time, he went to night school to earn his degree.

My mom, on the other hand, had only worked a part-time job while she was finishing high school, and she never had responsibility for bringing in an income. She seemed to assume that a legitimate source of income would just present itself to us kids. Don’t get me wrong–she and Dad had some financially tight times, but it was never an option for her to get a job, so I feel like there’s a certain level of financial responsibility she never fully understood. I know she would say that she and my dad made these choices and decisions in faith that God would provide for us (and God definitely provided for us), but I still feel that my family could have been much better prepared financially.

My mom also believed that we didn’t need a high school diploma because “we never stop learning.” So I earned my GED while working three jobs. At first my mom wasn’t happy with the prospect of me obtaining my GED because she still had some negative “dropout” associations with it and she didn’t see the necessity of it. However, she was proud of me when I graduated with honors.

I feel like my parents became so focused on creating family culture and being close knit, that they did not spend enough energy on raising us to fit in with society at large. In many respects, the ATI experience seemed to be an alternate reality that we were expected to live in for the rest of our lives.

Speaking from first-hand experience, transitioning to the “real world” has been a rough ride. When my husband and I have kids, I want to be able to present them with more options than were presented to me so that they are better prepared for life.

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.


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